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Fashion in Chiang Mai has evolved from a distinctive cultural heritage into modern city couture. This contemporary style owes its allure to an endowment of elegance from the artful textiles of the past. Most prominent in the 19th century, the Lanna textile industry was a thriving force that made a statement about the individuality of northern Thailand and its traditions.

Today, fashion in Chiang Mai continues to exhibit the intricate designs and bold juxtapositions that brought it past acclaim, with a modern leaning toward the avant-garde. Fashionable northern roots have given way to modern Lanna chic. Nimmanhaemin Road, the eclectic epicentre of creative Chiang Mai, boasts designers that are both original and distinctive with artistry that speaks for what the city has become.

Rattanaphol ‘Yo’ Taja began his career in design as an architect but quickly branched out into other forms of creative expression. His label is an experimental and eclectic blend of traditional Lanna style and progressive fashion. The designs showcase structured silhouettes that play with proportion and colour. He draws on his architectural roots as basis for his designs along with the seasonal development of themes.

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Yo finds his men’s wear line easier to market than his women’s wear collection having observed that “women think too much, men are far more easy” when deciding to buy. He recently travelled to Sri Lanka and began to take interest in how the fashions of Sri Lanka and other Indian countries have influenced Lanna style throughout history. His latest collection combines elements of his interpretation of Sri Lankan fashion mixed with his modernised version of the Lanna aesthetic.

Yo’s love of “the ancient, the earth and the spiritual” serve as a basis for his inspiration, as does the recognition he has won for his work. In 2006 he was voted Northern Designer of the Year along with being ranked number one out of 40 fashion designers by the Department of Export Promotion earlier this year. He would love to open another shop, but like most business owners of late says, “I am thinking about the economy and what it will take.”

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What inspires you the most?

My grandfather is a philosopher about literatures, languager, ceremonies and ancient Lanna cultures. The entire and I realize at the Buddhism fact, all of Lanna is the Buddhism which means to the true lives living with the simple and happiness.

What about your work is distinctly Thai?

From the truth of root, I have lived in supreme – delicate art country surrounding with the romarce, humble, middle ways and forgiveness.

Siam (Thailand) from is the ultimate of mixing, harmony and divisibility, Siam had adjusted to be syrvived from western colonials. Therefore, Siam or Thailand must change herself which was quite difficult fer a small country. This is our special and no matter fast or soon, we all have done the best as we can so far.


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